Tens of Thousands Call for Obama Climate Hail Mary Before Trump Moves In

Just one month from inauguration and with confirmation hearings looming for President-elect Trump’s climate-denying cabinet, an international coalition of human rights and environmental groups is appealing to President Obama to take one final action to advance justice and action on climate change in spite of Trump.

Today, 117 organizations including 350.org and the Center for International Environmental Law, led by Corporate Accountability International, delivered the call of more than 70,000 people to President Obama to fulfill the U.S.’s commitment to the U.N. climate treaty’s Green Climate Fund. The GCF is a primary vehicle for climate finance that is largely seen as the lynchpin of climate action. In 2014 the U.S. committed $3 billion to the GCF, but to date has transferred only $500 million.

Donald Trump has made climate denial and advancing the fossil fuel industry’s agenda a central focus of his new administration. Last week, Trump nominated a series of climate deniers to his cabinet including Rex Tillerson, current chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, as Secretary of State, and Scott Pruitt, who is known for suing the Environmental Protection Agency, to direct that very agency.

“Donald Trump’s administration will be of, by, and for, the fossil fuel industry and if we don’t act now, millions will suffer,” said Corporate Accountability International's Tamar Lawrence-Samuel. “President Obama must do whatever it takes to fulfill the U.S.’ commitment to the Green Climate Fund before Donald Trump and his Big Oil cabinet take over.”

Established as part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Green Climate Fund is the primary vehicle through which global north countries, responsible for the vast majority of historical global greenhouse gas emissions, can provide the resources due global south countries so that they may adapt to the already devastating effects of climate change and transition to renewable energy sources.  

In March 2016, understanding that climate deniers in Congress would refuse a direct appropriation, the Obama administration made good on $500 million of its commitment to the Green Climate Fund through a State Department fund called the Economic Support Fund (ESF). Given the myriad funds appropriated to the State Department, Treasury Department, Defense Department and other agencies whose mission could arguably align with support of climate finance, the fulfillment of this pledge on a more accelerated timeline is regarded as an issue of political will.

“The debt for the damage inflicted on the global climate by American carbon will never be fully repaid, and the Trump administration can be counted on to do nothing for the most vulnerable people on the planet,” said author and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, “So this call makes both practical and moral sense.”

The demand on the Obama administration is part of a global movement of environmental and human rights groups to protect a critical international commitment made by the U.S., and to resist Trump’s looming assault on climate policy, human rights and equity during his term. Not only do most of Trump’s cabinet appointments have long histories of dismantling and attacking environmental policies, they own more wealth than one third of Americans combined and owe much of it to years in the upper echelons of corporate America, confirming the fears of many that this administration will represent only the interests of corporations and the wealthy.

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